Few flowering plants can compete with crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia indica and cvs., USDA Hardiness Zones 7–9) for vibrant summer color. As an added bonus, crape myrtles thrive in heat and humidity and are drought tolerant to boot.
Though many people plant crape myrtles, few people prune them correctly. Correct pruning yields gracefully shaped trees with more blooms that are held upright on strong stems. And flowers arrive earlier than do those on unpruned or mispruned plants.
Photo/Illustration: J. Paul Moore